BLACK RIVER FALLS, WI - "Are any of you stressed out right now about getting done what you need to get done," asked Black River Falls English teacher Julie Thiedens.
These students are learning what it takes to be a journalist as part of their Writing I class at Black River Falls High School.
"We are working with PBS NewHour," said Samantha Barnum, Black River Falls senior.
"There is a pressure to make sure these are really great stories," said Thiedens.
"They have over a million viewers," said Barnum.
"These may possibly go out on the National Broadcast," said Thiedens. "It's a small chance, but there is a small chance."
Oh, yeah. They are feeling the pressure.
"We have to interview our sources and get all of our interviews done," said Barnum. "Get our b-roll in and getting all of our background information and putting it together into our final project."
The project is a news story completely produced by students as part of this PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Lab.
"They're providing a mentor and they are getting us a ton of curriculum," said Thiedens, "and they're also supporting us a ton to go out there and create video news reports."22349220
Black River Falls High School is one of 50 SRL sites across the country. And the only one in Wisconsin.
"The main goal is for students to have an appreciation for journalism," said Thaisi Da Silva, PBS NewsHour SRL coordinator.
Da Silva meets with the students weekly via video conference from Washington D.C.
"We're hoping to inspire the next generation of storytellers," said Da Silva. "We want them to tell fair and balanced stories."
Like the one Samantha and her team of three is working on.
"We are focusing on the Impact test that athletes take at the beginning of every sports season," said Barnum.
High School athletes have to take a test that measures an athletes memory, balance and coordination.
"The question is whether students are faking the test," said Barnum. "So, by taking a lower score on the Impact test right away if they test you again, when they think you have a concussion, it'll be easier to hide."
Concussions are a hot topic in the NFL this year. These students are hoping their story, in small town Black River Falls, will have national appeal.
"They really care that a lot of people are going to see their product and that means they're really working hard," said Thiedens. "They understand the urgency here."
So, nerves are high and expectations are even higher as these students try for their chance to be a part of the national spotlight.
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